The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 29, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN-Jayhawks continue win streak

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins learned early on that Kansas Coach Bill Self was a leader who would make something big of himself, long before he had himself a national championship on his resume and was considered among the best coaches in the land.

It was a lesson Huggins learned the hard way, and one he keeps being reminded of every time the two cross paths.

Self led his Jayhawks into the Coliseum on Monday night to display the nation’s No. 1/2 team that was about to make a mockery of the Mountaineers, 61-56, for their 18th consecutive victory, the nation’s longest streak.

The triumph marked the fifth consecutive time Self had taken Huggins’ scalp at three different schools, beating the third winningest active coach while he was at Cincinnati, Kansas State and now at his alma mater, WVU.

Considering how dismal a season this one has become for Huggins’ Mountaineers, now 9-11 and losers of four in a row and five of six, the latest game between the two is of far less interest than was the first, for it came at a time when Huggins actually thought he had a shot at taking down a national title.

Self was a young coach then, one who had begun his career at Oral Roberts and won but 55 of 109 games before moving on to Tulsa, where he was in the process of building a winner and a reputation.

Huggins was at Cincinnati and had an overpowering team that rolled over nearly everything in its way, right up until its best player, Kenyon Martin, suffered a broken leg on March 9, 2000.

At the time, Huggins was under some fire in Cincinnati, for he had lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament three consecutive times, the second of which came about in 1998 when Jarrod West made his miracle shot at the buzzer to beat Huggins and his Bearcats.

With Martin out, the NCAA seeding committee dropped UC to a No. 2 seed, something Huggins protested vehemently about, claiming the committee showed his team “a lack of respect,” but in the end the move proved justified as Self’s Tulsa team, a No. 7 seed, eliminated the Martin-less Bearcats, 69-61, in Nashville.

Could Self and Tulsa have beaten Cincinnati with Martin there? Huggins would never admit so and could point to his team shooting just 35 percent from the field with 19 of 54 baskets made, but also being outrebounded, 44-39, without the muscular, athletic All-American.

“We obviously had to change a lot of things without Kenyon, but I thought we could advance,” Huggins said. “Give Tulsa a lot of credit. That’s a very balanced, well-coached team.”

Little did Huggins know that midway through the 2013 season he still would be trying to figure out a way to beat Self.

 So it was that earlier in the day, before the game would be played before a large crowd at the Coliseum welcoming Kansas for the first time ever, someone asked Huggins about Self as a coach.

“Obviously, he does a great job,” he said.

And the reason?

In part, Huggins would note, because there are some similarities between the way Self runs his Kansas team and the way Huggins has built his coaching career that includes 719 victories.

“He’s kind of like, when I was younger, they called me an old-school guy. I say that’s a compliment. He does things the right way. They are fundamentally sound. They play the game the right way,” Huggins said.

You watch Kansas play and you see a lot of the kind of things that Huggins does, things Huggins got from his father, a legendary high school basketball coach.

It isn’t fancy. It isn’t inventive.

Kansas plays defense the way Huggins would like to see his Mountaineers play defense. They are hardnosed and aggressive. They hit the boards as if every rebound is their property unless you can take it away from them.

On offense they run the kind of motion that Huggins loves to run, moving the ball, moving the defense until they get a clean shot at the basket.

Certainly, the Jayhawks were prohibitive favorites and never could have expected the Mountaineers to make a game of it when they opened a 15-point lead 14 minutes into the game, but Huggins had learned some things in his previous meetings with Self.

He pulled them all out in the closing minutes of the first half and into the second half, much of it riding on the talents of Aaric Murray, who became the second coming of Kevin Pittsnogle with his 3-point shooting.

West Virginia got it down to 2 before the Jayhawks used their superior talent to put it away down the stretch.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU punter turns heads at linebacker

    They call him “Huey the Punter.”
    His real name is Houstin Syvertson. His real position is not punter. Not anymore, anyway.
    To be honest, until Saturday’s spring game, not many people following West Virginia football knew the name or the nickname. They know it now.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads